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A looming digital divide? Group differences in the perceived importance of electronic health records

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Electronic health records (EHRs) are expected to bring a variety of health benefits, including reducing disparities in health-care access, but only if they are valued by all patient populations. We used the 2007 Health Information and National Trends Survey to characterize which health-care users report that electronic access to their health records is important for themselves and their providers. Respondents from populations that generally experience health-care disparities (Blacks, Latina/os, and patients with psychological distress) were among the most likely to report that the EHR was very important for themselves. Women were less likely than men to deem the EHR very important for their providers. Findings remained consistent after controlling for respondents’ socioeconomic status, health status, and health care. By identifying the characteristics of current health-care users who see electronic access to records as important for themselves and providers, we can better understand potential barriers as well as motivators to adoption that could contribute to equitable usage across groups or a digital divide.
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Keywords: digital divide; electronic health records; health disparities; health information technology

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA 2: Department of Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 736 Bolton Hall, Milwaukee, WI, 53201-0413, USA

Publication date: July 3, 2015

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